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The Taj Lake Palace Hotel rises like a mirage from the middle of Lake Pichola as a real-life jewel shining in the Indian Subcontinent. It is an eighteenth-century palace transformed into a lavish hotel that offers guests the opportunity to experience life as royalty once did. The hotel is situated within a former kingdom now known as the city of lakes and palaces: Udaipur, India. This Taj Lake Palace review shares my 3-night experience at one of the world’s most unique, historic, and luxurious hotels. It’s a hotel I have had my eyes on since I was a kid.
This review is the 6th part of a series covering my recent trip to Singapore, Thailand, India, and UAE:
The Singapore Suites, Sweet Spot
Taj Lake Palace Review: A Royal Experience
Luxury Retreat at The Oberoi Amarvilas Agra
An Oasis in UAE: Qasr Al Sarab
Qatar Qsuites is home in the Sky
Taj Lake Palace – History
The Lake Palace was first built in 1743 as a former summer palace of the royal dynasty of Mewar. Over the next 200 years, the palace went through many rulers before falling into disrepair in the 20th century. Only in the 1960s was the palace decided to be turned into a luxury hotel, and in 1971, the Taj Hotels group took over.
The hotel is one of the most photographed hotels in the world, and during its tenure of the past 60 years, it has been host to various famous dignitaries and celebrities from all over the world. The Taj Lake Palace was the scene of the world’s second most expensive wedding in 2018, and was featured in the James Bond movie “Octopussy,” where many scenes were filed on-site in 1983
Udaipur is often considered one of the most romantic cities in the world, and the Taj Lake Palace significantly contributes to this image. The palace’s location by the lake, exquisitely manicured gardens, and stunning architecture have ensured that it remains a popular destination for tourists and visitors alike.
The hotel has also won countless hotels, including:
- Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, ranked #3 in the Best Hotels in the World category, Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2019
- Taj Lake Palace was awarded Best Hotel in Asia and was featured in the Sixth Annual Gold List by Condé Nast Traveller UK in 2010.
- Taj Lake Palace was rated the fifth Best Luxury Resort in the World by Booking.com guests in Booking’s Best in 2015.
- Taj Lake Palace was awarded The Best Luxury Hotel in India at the Lonely Planet Magazine Awards in 2015.
Taj Lake Palace – Booking
The booking for this Taj Lake Palace review was done under a Virtuoso rate, which received the following benefits:
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
- Daily Continental Breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom per stay
- Complimentary lunch or dinner for up to two guests per bedroom, once during the stay, excluding alcohol, taxes and gratuities (minimum 3 courses & value of $100USD)
- Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Booking Virtuoso rates are excellent because elite-type benefits are given without being an elite member of the hotel’s reward program. Plus, Virtuoso rates generally do not cost more than a regular rate.
If you have never heard of Virtuoso, it is a leading global network of agencies specializing in luxury and experiential travel. Virtuoso is partnered with many of the world’s best travel companies and independent travel advisors who can use their personal connections and firsthand expertise to craft bespoke trips for clients, including unique experiences, complimentary perks, VIP treatment and rare access.
A Virtuoso travel advisor can elevate every trip. They know how to get the best value for your time and money, and, thanks to their global connections, they can VIP you at hotels, on cruise lines, on tours, and more.
As with my Bangkok Four Seasons booking, I booked the Taj Lake Palace through The Luxury Traveller. Jarvis Marcos, the founder, has built relationships with many exclusive luxury hotels worldwide and is highly recommended by my peers. He certainly assisted in making our stay extra special.
The cost of the room was USD 798/night.
This may be understandably expensive for many, including myself. However, the opportunity to experience such a fine hotel with stellar Indian hospitality could not be passed on. Plus, I offset the cost using my Scotia Scene Points.
Taj Lake Palace – Location & Property Layout
The Taj Lake Palace is in the middle of Lake Pichola in Udaipur, India. Udaipur is known as the most romantic city in India, nestled amidst the Aravalli Ranges. Often called ‘the city of lakes’ or ‘Venice of the East,’ Udaipur is famous for its picturesque lakes, providing a stunning backdrop to its historic buildings and narrow alleys. Udaipur is one of India’s most popular tourist destinations, with its forts, palaces, temples, gardens, colourful fairs, and festivals. Although this is a Taj Lake Palace review, I recommend that travellers visit this beautiful city and not just be attracted to this property.
The hotel features a red carpet entrance from the dock onto a courtyard to the lobby, 3 restaurants and a bar, more courtyards, a pool, a gym, and a spa. There are 65 decorated rooms and 18 grand suites, which are spread over the various wings of the palace.
Taj Lake Palace – Arrival & Check-In
Access to the palace is via a private boat near the famous City Palace. We knew we were in for a treat when we arrived at the dock. We were warmly greeted by hotel staff who unloaded our bags, which would magically be delivered to our hotel room later. Sitting in the seating area, we were promptly offered cold drinks of choice while we watched and listened to a local musician play.
I cannot truly express what a treat it was to be transported to the palace by boat. As we slowly approached, I was mesmerized by this beautiful structure that appeared to magically float in the water.
We were welcomed like royalty at the palace dock. A shower of rose petals fell upon us as we walked towards the reception.
While we waited to be escorted to our room, I stepped back outside onto the courtyard to take in the sweeping views of the iconic Udaipur buildings along the shore. I could not help but feel that every passing tourist boat and people along the coast were staring at us. After all, this palace stands out.
We were given a tour of the property and shown all its nooks and crannies before finally settling into our two rooms, connected next to each other. Because I had booked a Virtuoso rate, Jarvis helped us secure upgrades and welcome amenities. My daughter Zoe was also given a couple of souvenirs, and to top it off, the staff took a family portrait and gave it to us upon check-out, fully framed. How nice!
Taj Lake Palace – The Room
The palace-style rooms have a princely-inspired decor with wooden lattice, irish work ceilings, and discrete niches. No two rooms at the palace are the same: each room is unique in size and is adorned with traditional Indian silks and dark teak furniture. There are marble floors throughout with exquisite Rajasthani artwork and sheer fabrics, which enable crisp sunlight to enhance the beauty of each room.
Although the palace is old, the room still offers all the modern amenities you would expect of a 5-star hotel, including a 4k television and wi-fi throughout the premises and rooms.. Air conditioning was also on point, something that can’t be said of all hotels in India.
I had booked a base “Luxury Room,” but we were upgraded to a “Palace Room.” My favourite part of the room was the nook that jetted into the lake, offering beautiful views of Lake Pichola and the City Palace during the day and night. There was a small seating area and table where I spent most of my time in the room. Note that most rooms don’t offer this, but the hotel had secured it for us thanks to Jarvis’ coordination with the hotel.
The bathroom in our room was adorned with beautiful blue wall tiles that contrasted nicely with the otherwise beige hues.
Taj Lake Palace – Public Spaces
Walking through the palace is like walking on a movie set. Polished marble is throughout the palace, including the many marble terraces lined with arched galleries and traditional domed cupolas. The tropical foliage, notably the bougainvillea plants, provides a beautiful, strong contrast to the whitewashed courtyards, including picturesque fountains and water ponds.
I also noticed that hotel furniture is minimal and simple so as to not overpower the spaces.
In the evening, the palace looks stunningly beautiful, with lanterns lit throughout the property, adding to the original charm of the palace. The white facade of the property is showcased both inside and out with just the right number of spotlights, creating a perfect ambiance.
Taj Lake Palace – Entertainment
Every evening, in one of the inner courtyards, the palace puts on a cultural performance for guests. We were entertained by an evening of traditional Rajasthan music and dance performances. Complimentary snacks were provided, and drinks could be ordered from the bar. It was very entertaining, especially for my daughter, who joined in on the dance performance at the end!
Taj Lake Palace – Pool
Lounging at the pool while overlooking the City Palace was quite an experience. The pool courtyard was one of the most picturesque I have ever seen. My only complaint was that the water needed to be heated, and in the morning, the water was too cool for my taste.
You can grab a sun lounger along the water’s edge for the best views.
Taj Lake Palace – Experiences
For this Taj Lake Palace review, I had to add the experiences that we did that are the icing on the cake to complete this magical Udaipur visit. The hotel offers many activities to experience, including a Heritage Walk and Boat Cruise. The heritage walk is free to guests and provides an insightful and entertaining walk around the palace. They kept us enthralled with rich and varied stories and anecdotes of the kings and princes who revelled at this palace.
The boat cruise along Lake Pichola has a small surcharge but is well worth it. A cruise is a must-do activity when visiting Udaipur. We were treated with an open, comfortable boat and an excellent English-speaking guide. The tour also included a stop at Jag Mandir Palace, which is also in Lake Pichola and is often called the Lake Garden Palace.
Taj Lake Palace – Food & Drinks
The Taj Lake Palace has some of the most elegant restaurants I have ever seen. The property has three restaurants that serve both Indian and Western cuisine, as well as a bar that offers light snacks throughout the day. Their signature restaurant, Bhairo, is on the rooftop and offers breathtaking views of City Palace and Lake Pichola. Although we didn’t get a chance to dine at Bhairo, we did have the pleasure of dining at Neel Kamal, which serves Indian cuisine, and at Jharoka for our daily breakfast, which was included in our Virtuoso rate. I fondly remember having breakfast by the lake with the sun shining through the arched windows.
Taj Lake Palace – Service
Service at the property was top-notch and some of the best I have ever experienced; very hospitable and personable. The staff remembered our names and always greeted us as the “Bhavsar Family.” There was never a request that they did not try to fulfill as promptly as possible. When we had to go ashore, there always seemed to be a boat available; there was no waiting around. The little gifts they left us throughout our stay were unnecessary but an appreciated gesture.
India is known for its exceptional hotels, and the Taj Lake Palace is undoubtedly one of them. Despite several renovations and updates over the years, the property has maintained its original charm, giving guests a sense of being transported back in time. However, it is the hotel’s location that truly sets it apart. The property is situated in the middle of a beautiful lake and offers breathtaking and unforgettable views. I hope this Taj Lake Palace review shows how unique this property is.
Given its hefty price tag, I had never thought I would get the opportunity to stay at the Taj Lake Palace, but thanks to points and miles, I could fulfill a childhood dream and create some beautiful memories with my family!